The charter landed about a half-hour ago in Chicago, to news that the McCain campaign has launched what Halperin is calling its “toughest attack ad yet.” But there’s a little problem with this line:
And now, he made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops.
Sure enough, the accompanying footage shows Obama playing basketball … with the troops in Kuwait.
Separately, here’s a link to a story I filed shortly before we took off from Heathrow.
UPDATE: Jake Tapper notes the ad also claims that Obama cancelled the trip because he was told he couldn’t bring the media. There is absolutely no evidence for that one. The campaign insists that the plan had been to leave us at the airport, and the military has confirmed that arrangements were being made to hold media and staff there at a passenger terminal.
As I have heard the campaign’s explanations for this decision over the past few days, as well as the attacks, I am convinced that it comes down to something that campaign strategist Robert Gibbs told reporters on the plane: When the campaign learned of the Pentagon’s concerns (Wednesday night), they realized that, however they structured the hospital visit, they were going to come in for criticism.
So they had a decision to make, and they had to do it on the fly. Their choice was to take a hit for going (even if it was a private detour from a very public campaign swing, Obama was going to be accused of using wounded troops for political gain), or a hit for not going (the charge would be–and has been–that Obama didn’t care about wounded troops). They decided to take the latter. We’ll see, as this controversy plays out, whether this was the right decision.